Cornwall family of 8 homeless after lithium battery in power tool found to spark blaze

The Cornwall family of eight had their lives changed in an instant Saturday night after officials say a lithium battery in a power tool set fire to their house on Beakes Road.

Blaise Gomez

Nov 28, 2022, 10:20 PM

Updated 548 days ago

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The Garulli family imagined happy holidays in their new home when they stood outside of it for a photo on their closing day in September but instead, they’re now homeless. 
The Cornwall family of eight had their lives changed in an instant Saturday night after officials say a lithium battery in a power tool set fire to their house on Beakes Road. 
The homeowner, Breigh Garulli, spoke to News 12 off camera and said she was inside with her six children when they smelled smoke, opened the garage door and saw flames. 
Neighbors saw the fire, too. 
“Very sad. We were here that night when it happened. They haven’t lived here long and I just feel very bad for them,” said Michelle Santini. 
The Vails Gate Fire Department responded to the blaze. 
Chief James Merritt says lithium battery fires are becoming common now that more rechargeable devices are using them and with the popularity of e-bikes and e-scooters. 
“You just have to be careful,” said Merritt. “Make sure you are charging them correctly and using them correctly.” 
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported more than 25,000 fires nationwide from lithium batteries in the last five years. 
“We’ve seen a lot of these in the news throughout New York City and it’s definitely expanding beyond there,” said Merritt. 
His tips to stay safe include storing batteries at room temperature, never charging batteries near bedding or furniture and making sure not to overcharge them. 
“Definitely try to use reputable manufacturers and follow their guidelines,” said Merritt. 
A GoFundMe page for the Garulli family has raised thousands of dollars in an effort to help and give them a “Christmas miracle.” 


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